Friday, February 22, 2013

Favorite Reading Spots: The Bath

One of my favorite places to read is in the bath, especially in the winter when I spend most of my day freezing cold. It's my favorite place to read when I want to read at home with no distractions. I get the water extra hot, dump in my favorite Lush bubble bar ("French Kiss" is my favorite!), pour a glass of wine, and lock the door. Before I know it, I cannot hear the TV just outside the door, and all I hear are my pink bubbles popping, and the turn of my pages. Also, there's something kind of glamourous about laying in a warm bath with a good chunk of literature. My choice of reading in my last bath was As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. I started reading it for fun as something outside of my required readings for class, and it's another book that I'm embarrassed to admit I haven't read until just now. Oops.
Do you like reading in the bath? Stay tuned for more of my favorite places to read!

Friday, February 15, 2013


Devon Davenport is the model of a girl who has it all together. She's the star of her high school's varsity soccer team. She can play and win against the boys. She plays on the off-season. Her grades are impeccable. She coaches children to be a goal keeper like her someday. She babysits a set of twins to make extra money to pay for her own trips to summer soccer camps. Her mother is less than involved, working multiple jobs to support the both of them and always on the hunt for Prince Charming, but that just seems to make Devon stronger, and more independent. No one has a bad thing to say about the well-respected fifteen year old, until a baby is found clinging to it's life in a garbage can behind her apartment. They say she's the one who gave birth to it. They say she attempted to murder her baby. The most confusing part? Devon doesn't remember any of it.

Devon's world is flung upside down when she is sent to a juvenile detention facility to await trial. Her biggest charge: attempted murder. Devon struggles to find her place in the group of girls in the detention facility, and tries to piece together the events that got her there: the boy, the sex, That Night. Meanwhile, her attorney, Dom, works to prove to a skeptical court that it is possible for Devon to have never known she was pregnant, and that she never meant for this outcome. But is that really the case?

After by Amy Efaw is an incredibly powerful read that had me clinging to every word on the page. I was reminded of Jodi Picoult, the way that she wove flashbacks into the present narrative, and the court scenes were strong and engaging, not at all boring or dry. Efaw really succeeded in creating visceral moments that were hard to read, but I couldn't pull away from them. Devon's present-tense first person narrative really jerked me into her most intense moments. As a reader, I was forced to feel Devon's intense pain, to see the gruesomeness of That Night, and feel the intense confusion of denial and the search for personal truth. More than once, I wanted to jump into the pages of the book to be there for Devon. She's a girl that really needed a hug.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It shook me to the core and was one of the most 'real' books I can remember reading in recent times. I think Amy Efaw really put a lot of faith into the maturity of her younger audience to tackle this book, which is admirable on it's own. After is not watered down, and is a very real life look into a very real life scenario.

What are some intense books you've read? Were you sad or relieved they were over?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, dear readers!

Whether you are single, coupled up, or rejecting the holiday all together, I hope you indulge yourself a little today. Personally, I love Valentine's Day, and I've spent several hours of it curled up with Amy Efaw's YA novel After. Not exactly a lovey dovey read for the day of hearts and love, but I cannot put it down and can't wait to talk about it with you all!

Are you doing anything special for Valentine's Day? What are some of your favorite romance/sexy novels? I'm not very well read in the romance genre!

{source for the adorable Valentine above is this Etsy shop!}

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Bunch of Current Reads & Quick Thoughts

Happy February!

One of the best parts of being a Fiction Writing major, besides the obvious of writing fiction, is reading awesome fiction. Rarely do I have to spend money on expensive textbooks, and I can run off to the used bookstore to get my novel requirements at a quarter of the price the bookstore offers them for. Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who immediately buckle under "too much work." Like right now, I've been assigned four novels to start reading immediately, plus a textbook, plus some short stories, and another short story compilation we'll be dipping from sooner or later. I posted a Facebook status all 'woe is me' about my current workload, and was told pretty quickly that what I've got right now is nothing compared to studying literature at another university. That made me feel melodramatic, but also much better. So here is what I'm reading, along with some quick thoughts.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't read this book up until this point of my life. The first chapter really frustrated me. Half of the words Alex uses are in slang- the Russian-derived language, 'Nadsat.' I had to read the first couple of pages with my computer open in my lap to the glossary so I could just get through two paragraphs. After the first chapter, I'm starting to get the hang of it, and it's exciting to read a book that makes me work to understand it and really pay attention to 'context clues' and what's happening. Now I'm on the train to loving it just like everyone else in the world.
Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison. I haven't tapped too much into this one, only two chapters as well, but if it's like anything else I've read by Dorothy Allison, I'm preparing myself for the heartache now. Bone, at the moment, is an observant child who admires her young, useful uncles, and spends a lot of time with her old, worn down grandmother, aunts, and waitress mother. After a 'miscommunication' at the hospital the day she was born, she was labeled a Bastard, and it's a title her mother works hard to try and erase.
Sula by Toni Morrison. I read a book by Toni Morrison in high school and really hated having to do so. I whined about it until halfway through and that's when I just gave up and pretended I read the whole thing. Now, I'm taking this one slow, and like the others, I've only read two chapters. I'm learning to really appreciate the language, feel out the characters, and I'm hooked now into the small town of Medallion, Ohio where Helene tries to fill her life with church to forget the whorehouse she was born in, and Nel makes a friend in Sula despite her mother thinking her family is below them.

The Time of Quarantine by Katharine Haake. I have to read this book with an open mind. Whenever I'm reading a book for class, and I'm not exactly drawn in, I have to remind myself that it wouldn't be published and out in the world if there wasn't some real value to it. It's very dense with lots of commas, but also poetic which makes it beautiful to read. It's definitely a book you have to take slow. The plot is also incredibly original, which is refreshing. Peter is alone at the end of the world. His father's commune, built to survive the famine, disease, and wars of the 'outside world' have failed when a sickness sweeps through his community. Now, he's alone, with the computers that hold replicas of every event in history, including himself.

Short stories I'm reading:
A&P by John Updike
Indian Camp by Ernest Hemingway
Virgins by Danielle Evans

Textbooks/Short Story Collections I'm reading from:
Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck: Stories from 2nd Story
Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Allen

What are some of your favorite books you've had to read for school?